Small-scale farmers have long criticized existing organic certification standards for being too lax, especially in ways that benefit industrial operations. To provide an alternative, the Rodale Institute recently joined forces with a coalition of nonprofits, farmers, and scientists to draft a new certification system for sustainable farming. Called “Regenerative Organic Certification,” this system supports and promotes farming that improves the land it uses, and gives consumers more information about the food they buy. The certification is designed to go “beyond organic” by implementing higher standards for farm management as they relate to soil health, animal welfare, and worker rights.
The Rodale Institute observes that organic certification isn’t as meaningful as it should be because it allows numerous farms to qualify despite the ecologically damaging agricultural practices they employ. The Institute defines regenerative agriculture as “improving the resources it uses, rather than destroying or depleting them.” By creating a regenerative standard with stricter requirements, the coalition hopes to make it easier for consumers to find those farms that set a higher bar.
Regenerative Organic Certification isn’t meant to replace existing organic standards. Rather, it’s designed to draw attention to farms already following holistic growing practices, and to provide an incentive for other growers to do the same. The certification expands existing organic standards to provide customers with more transparency about the origins of the products they’re buying. In this way, the Rodale Institute hopes to promote the creation of resilient regional ecosystems and communities across the country, all while giving consumers the information they need to buy food they can eat in better conscience.
This new certification will be administered by NSF International, an independent certification program. Learn more about Regenerative Organic Certification on the Rodale Institute website.